View Full Version : Garden / greenhouse positioning
14-03-2008, 10:34 PM
Hi there, I am currently enrolled in a permaculture introductory course, requiring to come up with a design on a property. My problem is the house faces north east so on all sides of the house there is different microclimates and the ideal position facing north on the west side is on the furthest part of the house so contradicts the design of zone 1 near the kitchen which is south east of the house in the cool / shaded corner.
I do not understand plants / plant needs / ideal companion plants just yet and was wondering if there was a list somewhere to help determine where to put things as I would like to stack things on all 4 sides of the house.
All i need to know is where to situate the right plants, ie plants that like morning sun will go on the east side of the house, plants that need sun for most of the day on the west side of the house. Plants that can only tolerate a bit of sun in the backyard which is the south side of the house facing south. It gets sun for about 3 hours after 12pm , and the furthest corner near the south east side is pretty shaded, though its the closest to the house being the ideal to situate an intensive garden.
I was hoping to put the herb garden at the back of the house which gets 3 hours of light in summer i have no idea about winter, a row of herbs on the verandah near the kitchen at the back, a vege patch in the north west side and fruit trees on the east side but i have no idea if that is ideal.
Also where would be ideal to be putting a greenhouse that can also be used for heating the house / drawing cool air in from the shade house in the backyard. I was hoping to put this on the east corner of the house at the front so facing north east but then there is an ever green tree on that side urrgh. The only place I could think of is right over the end of the house facing north / north west but that will take over the place to put the intensive garden.
Still having dilemmas also where to place a dog which may need to be relocated and then where to also place chickens, obviouslly will need to be close to the intensive garden, but if i decide to grow fruit trees on the east side of the house, i'd need them there too !
Its a very odd property indeed, odd house angle obviously forced to the road contour, and then overshadowing from neighboring trees and fences.
Let me know thanks.
It's very difficult to give you an answer on siting your plants appropriately when you haven't included any climate details. Three hours of sun in the tropics or up a mountain is very different to three hours of sun in a cool temperate valley. Just as three hours of morning sun is very different to three hours from just after midday thru 'til three o'clock
I don't know if you've been taught in your PDC course that a greenhouse attached to your house for 'heating' is desirable, or whether you read it in an old Permaculture text or other book, but be warned that many of the people who have tried that design technique with a decent sized greenhouse ended up with a house constantly full of mould for their trouble. One of those ideas which is good in theory, but the practical reality can often cause an ongoing health and maintenance problem. I'd be surprised if Permaculture people were still pushing it considering I have a Mollison PDC on audio from 1983 where he mentions that considerable anecdotal evidence and feedback led to him concluding that it is more often than not a bad idea. :wink:
Don't get too hung up on strict zone and design placement, especially on a small block of land - each site is different, so if it's not possible to do the ideal text recommended thing for one reason or another, just work around it and pick the best design place for your site.
Bear in mind that the term 'herbs' incorporates a very varied bunch of plants...the sun and moisture requirements for Rosemary and Tarragon are dramatically different to that for Gotu Kola and Mushroom Plant. There's no reason to get hung up on needing to have a designated herb area...spread them around the most appropriate microclimates if one area hasn't got the full range you need.
16-03-2008, 11:18 AM
Sorry about that, its a temperament sydney climate, house is facing north east to the street. Gets alot of overshadowing at times of the day.
Greenhouse setups near the house don't sound like a good thing then, alot of people have them attached though from what i can see. It obviouslly needs to be very close by for propogating though, unless people like me who would prefer to just leave the crops to self seed where possible :D
Ok so do you mean it should be fine to place one patch near the kitchen which gets shade and sun , and then another patch 10-15m on the other side of the house is ok ? And then cluster guild plants where it meets there requirements.
Greenhouses near the house or separate from your ventilation (windows, doors, vents etc) is no problem daniel, I assumed you meant using the greenhouse to heat your house, when perhaps you meant using a wall of your house to help heat the greenhouse?
Yes, that's exactly what I meant with the planting; don't get too stressed about having things in perfect textbook places, put them where the microclimate for your property suits them best, group them by needs (most particularly sunlight) and if that means using several areas, go right ahead. You can get around differing water requirements with herbs by doing a herb spiral (plants with the largest moisture requirement at the bottom, least at the top), and there's lots of info on how to build one of those available, so I won't explain in detail.
Just as an example on designing, we bought a property recently which has an established high canopy of pioneer trees (which are very important in this climate for shade and shelter), but it's right outside the kitchen on the northern and western sides - the hottest sides of the house. There's no way it would be a smart idea to remove those trees just because a textbook says that's the ideal place to put a Zone 1 kitchen garden - and any good designer would agree, especially when dealing with limited space and already established shade/shelter trees.
What I have done is plant any herbs, fruits, berries and annuals which will tolerate the limited morning sunlight and occasional dappled sunlight which this area gets, as an understorey to the established trees (removing the ornamentals which were there), with a focus on plants which are picked regularly for use in the kitchen, and plant the others which need more sun as close as is practicable. I don't have a textbook perfect Zone 1 kitchen garden, but all things considered it's the perfect solution for the design I need to implement on this particular property.
Bear in mind this is just an example of being flexible in design and working with what you already have. Because I live in a full tropical climate with hot early morning sun and a similar sun trajectory all year, I can get away with doing this understorey. In a temperate place it would be more difficult to choose frequently picked species which would do ok.
The idea of having a kitchen garden really close to the kitchen is obviously to cut down on travel time to that area, so you are less likely to be put off from picking the plants there because of inclement weather, and so it doesn't get neglected, because you see it every day. However, if the only good spot for many of the plants you'll need in a kitchen garden is at the other end of the house, then put those plants there, and only the ones which can handle the microclimate outside the kitchen in that area. The most important thing is that your frequently picked/browsed plants aren't down by the back fence or a long walk away, and every day you're walking past a lot of plants which are only harvested every few months to get there. :wink:
If you start with the plants you'd ideally like to grow (start this list mostly from what you like to eat), then group those plants by sunlight needs, you'll see the beginning of guilds starting to form. Then if you go back through and work out what grows to what height, you'll see how these guilds may be stacked/layered together. At that point, work out if you're missing any levels, and search for an appropriate candidate. Unless you're market gardening, don't be afraid to mix perennials with annuals, fruits, herbs and vegies all together etc - overall diversity and plant needs are the key factors, not having everything in a neat designated area. Some people like that, but it's not necessary.
Companion planting lists are out there everywhere if you google for them, and there are books which deal with the topic in varying degrees of detail. One thing I can promise you, is they'll all be different. :D They will however, all have grouped companions in common (good companions, or antagonistic), so take these as the only hard, fast things to do, or don't do.
21-03-2008, 03:15 AM
Daniel, a greenhouse has a dirt floor and uninsulated walls, often single pane glass, always has moisture, mold, bacteria, insects and lots of condensation on the inside of the glass, because there's an interaction between the soil, the soil moisture, the glass panes and the heat from the sun that creates the environment plants live in. Having this attached to your house could create some real problems with mold, especially with the air you breathe, rodents that can get into the greenhouse might have access to your house, the list goes on. (Rodents eat through screens, don't forget!) :shock:
Having a sunroom, on the other hand - a glass room on a foundation with a solid floor that is disconnected from the soil - wouldn't have the soil moisture or bacteria (but could have plant moisture from plants in pots), but would be extremely hot in the summer, so much so that you'd have to rig up some kind of shade over the glass panels. Inside temps can be well over 38 C (100 F) Then you end up spending a ton of $$ to cover up the glass! It's a Catch 22.
I have a house that faces east, and the sun-loving plants that get sun first thing in the morning do the better than the ones that don't get sun until noon, especially annual vegetables. Those are the farthest away from the house on the west side. And far away from the house on the east side because by noon the house is shading them.
As the sun changes its position in the sky from spring to summer to fall a spot that was shady could become very hot and sunny for 3 months, and make a shade-loving plant very unhappy. A sunny spot in summer could be way too shady in spring and fall. It's crucial to live with your yard and house for a year, taking careful notes and keeping track of hours of sun. Sun loving plants you grow for fruit or vegetables need at least 8 hours of bright direct sunlight every day from spring until fall, not just 3 months out of that cycle.
Maybe visiting farms or local greenhouse setups in community gardens that already have these kinds of installations would help you, you can ask questions of the people there. These are very expensive, time consuming, and high maintenance projects, so it's important to learn about how they work, maybe on a smaller scale first, to see what works where you are.
Powered by vBulletin™ Version 4.1.1 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.